Leonard Eyes Victory In Kentucky Sparta, Kentucky - - It's back to being comfortable for ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Johnny Leonard as the series returns to the Superspeedways for the running of the Harley Davidson Cincinnati 150 Saturday ...
Leonard Eyes Victory In Kentucky
Sparta, Kentucky - - It's back to being comfortable for ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Johnny Leonard as the series returns to the Superspeedways for the running of the Harley Davidson Cincinnati 150 Saturday afternoon from Kentucky Speedway.
Leonard and his Florida Motorsports Group team invade the 1.5 mile speedway looking to improve on their test performance from last week which saw Leonard post the tenth fastest morning time, and 17th overall by days end. The team is returning with the same 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, a new automobile to the stable with high expectations and hopes.
"We're very excited about this weekend," said Leonard, the driver of the No. 13 Boca Bay Builders-Affordable Roofing Chevrolet. "The test was a success and a step in the right direction for this team. We're looking to be a factor from start to finish. We made some changes to our car after the test that should aid us some time and speed. I have a good feeling about this weekend."
Johnny has one previous start at Kentucky Speedway occurring in the summer event last year. After practicing solidly, mother nature washed out qualifying forcing him to start the event from 31st. The No. 13 proved to be fast that day, but a mechanical failure under the green flag halted a good finish with Leonard crossing the line 30th.
Despite the bad luck, the former late model driver continues to boast about the Superspeedway. "Kentucky is one of my favorites. It's right up there on the top. I know we have a good car, if we keep our eyes peeled and stay out of trouble, it should be a good weekend for our race team."
Guiding the FMG team this weekend will be Ted Kennedy. Kennedy, a former crew chief in the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series has leaped aboard the team looking to guide them into victory circle in the coming weeks. "Ted has really been a big asset to this organization," continued Leonard. "He is teaching me things. At the open test every change he made to the car worked. The communication is getting better and that's important."
NASCAR driver Eric Jones will return as the team's spotter for this weekend. Jones, who has prior experience in the ARCA RE/MAX Series driving for championship owner Larry Clement, was beneficial during the team's event at Salem last month.
Boca Bay Builders will hold primary sponsorship on Leonard's Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the third of 23 events this season. Founded in 2002, Boca Bay is Southwest Florida's newest premier homebuilder. Their elite group of building executives bring more than 50 years of combined industry knowledge to your home buying experience.
Affordable Roofing joins the team as a major associate sponsor this weekend. Proving to be one of the most respected roofing organizations in southern Florida, Affordable Roofing details your every roofing need at a respectable and affordable rate.
Tex Racing Enterprises will serve as the team's driveline supplier for the event, while AMSOIL joins the team as the official lubricant for the fourth event of the season. pme engines (Pro-Motor Engineering) is supplying the horsepower under the hood at Kentucky.
In addition, Russo's Tinting and Hampton Inn -- Florence, Kentucky will serve as associate sponsors this weekend.
"We have a lot of great sponsors affiliated with this team this weekend and season," explained Leonard. "Our sponsors mean a lot to this team and if we can go out there and run well, we know we've done our job. We started to turn the corner with our 14th place finish in Salem. We're going to keep digging; our sponsors are the ones that keep us on the track."
With a record entry list expected this weekend, Leonard knows he has to be patient in the first practice sessions and save his car for when it counts the most, qualifying.
"I'm going to play it safe, but we have to see how the car is feeling. The team knows what worked well at the test, so we've set our standards a little bit, but we have to keep focused, avoid any trouble that could occur during practice."
"When qualifying rolls around, I would love to start inside the top-ten. We have to get a good lap, I have to hit all my marks, and not make a mistake. Qualifying is a little different this weekend. We're going to practice on Friday, but qualify and race on Saturday. I'm looking forward to qualifying first thing Saturday. It's a little unique, but I think I'll benefit from it. Our qualifying efforts have been mid-packed this season thus far. We're looking to advance those stats this weekend.
"There's no happy hour this weekend, so we have to get the car dialed in during practice. No matter where we start, we'll try and use pit strategy to our advantage as best as we can and plan to keep the car out of the "eye of the storm." It would be great to stay with the lead pack, lead some laps, and be battling for the win at the end of the day."
Despite it being the fourth race of the season, Leonard is continuing to eye the bigger picture in the back of his mind." We're running for the championship. We gained a lot of positions last month at Salem in the standings. I know it's only going to get tougher from here. However, we have a good team, lots of experience, good equipment, and good horsepower, the rest is up to the driver, and I'm ready."
DID YOU KNOW?.... Florida Motorsports Group driver Johnny Leonard, partner Rick Woodard and selected members of the team will hold a press conference this Saturday, May 14th 2005 from 11:45am to 12:00pm in the Kentucky Speedway Media Center. The team will discuss and unveil some key changes to their operation as they continue to progress towards an ARCA RE/MAX Series championship.
The Harley Davidson Cincinnati 150 is the fourth of 23 events on the 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. Practice begins Friday, May 13th with an extensive afternoon session planned. Qualifying is on tap first thing Saturday morning with the race set to take the green flag later that day just after 3:00pm EST. While the race won't be televised, look for the latest news and results from the track at ARCARacing.com